Monday, March 22, 2010

Algebra + Biology = HUH?! Help For the Scary Subjects.

 "How do I teach advanced subjects?"

I may have graduated college with honors but high school was a different story.  I didn't see the need for actually attending classes much when in high school.  If I wasn't interested, I wasn't there.  So I managed to take a lot of writing and literature classes and avoided things like higher science and math.  The highest math I completed was Pre-Algebra.  My sciences consisted of Earth Science (where I managed to get a D the second time I took the class. And only showed up that time because the teacher was pretty cute.) and Wildlife Ecology (where we designed a zoo and came up with various out of the box uses for a stool. I loved that class!).  So how in the world do I teach my teenagers subjects I never took myself?
For me, this question has been answered by using good curriculum that does the teaching for me.  I don't need a lot of teaching helps in the area of history, writing, and literature.  I live and breathe these things and naturally pass my passion on to my children (Sometimes to the point of overkill. Sh, don't tell them I admitted that!).  I need more help, and a bigger budget, for the maths and sciences.
Math software has been a lifesaver for me.  We have tried many different math programs and have fallen in love with Teaching Textbooks.  The student pops the disc into the computer and watches the lecture.  The problems are worked out on the screen and then they have practice problems to be sure they have grasped the concept.  If those go well, they move on to the actual problems to solve.  My kids will work these out on scrap paper and then enter the answer into the computer.  Grades 7 and down grade these for you directly on the computer. Pre-Algebra and up require parent grading.  I still love the program but will love it even more when and if they add the auto grading component into the high school math versions.

This is an excellent solution for this non-math Mom and especially for my non-math kids.  They find the explanations easy to understand and the grade levels to be do-able and not too accelerated.  For my math brained kids, we have also fallen in love with Life of Fred.  This is a non-traditional math program that fits our non-traditional family very well.  My current 9th grader worked through Life of Fred Algebra on his own and plans to move into Advanced Algebra next fall.  This is beyond the scope of my mathy-ness but, as he has a brain for this, he has been able to move forward without me.  Sniff.  Sniff.  (It does help that Dad is math-minded, if questions do come up, we can wait for Dad's help.)

We've used Rainbow Science and Apologia for the higher sciences.  So far, we haven't had a budding scientist in the family and so these have been easy enough to work through independently or together.  Sometimes I have to learn along with them and that's okay too!  I'm learning to enjoy science in the elementary grades (we started making snot today and readied our petri dishes for bacteria growth), which is amazing in and of itself.  My husband has been the one to help with the high school labs but I may just be about ready to branch out of my comfort zone and check out some cool high school science for myself.  The amazing thing with homeschooling is that we usually learn right along with our children.  And that's pretty cool.

Some of you may be math and science whizzes.  You can do the same thing with any subject area of weakness.  There is so much available in the way of good curricula to help.  Any good book or software that teaches the advanced subject on its own can guide you in teaching your children.  Learn along with them if you need to.  Don't be afraid to let them learn more than you.  We can't all be experts in every subject and that's okay (I have a whole post worth of thoughts on this topic.  Someday!). There's no need to fear teaching advanced subjects with the wealth of material available to the homeschooler.  Research your options, ask around, learn together.  You can do it.

Check out more answers to these questions at the TOS Crew Blog Cruise Hub.  
Links will be posted each Tuesday!


Annie Kate said...

Isn't it wonderful to see how much great curriculum is out there to help us!

I agree with your post in so many ways. We, too, have come to love computer learning. And I wholeheartedly agree that none of us can be an expert in everything. In fact, we shouldn't even worry about that. :)

Annie Kate

Debra said...

Awesome post! Funny though, because I am mathy and a science geek, and I tend towards the self-teaching stuff there... because my kids "get it" without much help from me, so I'd rather invest my time where they need more help. Which, coincidentally enough, is in the areas where I struggle too.

Heidi said...

Great post! We also use many of the resources you mentioned.


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